News / USA

    Midterm Elections Post High Stakes for Obama

    Multimedia

    Audio

    President Barack Obama is spending an increasing amount of time campaigning and raising money for Democratic congressional candidates in the run-up to the November midterm elections.  The president wants to do all he can to limit Democratic losses this year, well aware that an erosion of the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will have enormous political implications for his ability to govern over the next two years.

    History says that the party that controls the White House usually loses congressional seats in a new president's first midterm election.  Combine that with a struggling national economy and you have the recipe for electoral trouble this November for Democrats.

    With that in mind, President Obama has embarked on campaign swings aimed at helping out Democratic congressional candidates around the country.  But everywhere Mr. Obama goes he has to confront the public's fears about a national economy that seems to be recovering - if at all - in fits and starts.

    "Slowly but surely we are moving in the right direction," said Obama.  "We are on the right track.  The economy is getting stronger, but it really suffered a big trauma and we are not going to get all eight million jobs that were lost back overnight."

    The public's frustration with the pace of economic recovery is told almost daily in opinion polls.  A recent Associated Press poll found that only 41 percent of those surveyed approve of the president's handling of the economy, and 61 percent said they thought the economy had either gotten worse or stayed the same during Mr. Obama's time in office.

    The main problem is the high unemployment rate, now at 9.5 percent nationally, says Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown.  "Voters are very unhappy about the economy.  When you say the economy, what they are really talking about is unemployment because unemployment is what matters to voters."

    Unhappiness over jobs and the economy is fueling a Republican comeback in the polls this year, with the opposition hoping to reclaim control of one or both houses of Congress that they lost in 2006.

    House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio would likely become Speaker of the House if Republicans can gain at least 39 congressional seats in November.

    "After promising so much and delivering so little, the Democrats have lost the support of the American people and the credibility to govern," said Boehner.

    Mr. Obama came into office in 2008 in large part because of discontent over the economy and a desire for change after eight years of Republican President George W. Bush.  Political experts say this year's congressional elections will be in part a referendum on President Obama's handling of the economy.

    University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said, "The election is about the economy.  We have seen a parade of other issues that are really not going to matter as much as people think they are going to matter.  The BP oil spill, immigration, gay marriage, all of these things are interesting and they are controversial, but the black hole of this election year is the economy, the rotten economy, the high unemployment rate.  That is what is hurting Democrats."

    In recent days, the president has been warning voters that Republicans have no plan to deal with the country's economic challenges and that they would return to the economic approach of the Bush administration.

    Larry Sabato says he expects many Democratic candidates to continue to blame Republicans for the current economic woes, but he says many voters will be skeptical.

    "It is a good tactic, but the problem is that by two years into the (presidential) term, voters naturally hold the incumbent president and his party accountable for what has happened.  You run out of options in the blame game," said Sabato.

    There are other political factors that seem to be working against the Democrats and the president this year.  Conservatives are energized, Democrats appear lethargic and independent voters, who were an important part of Mr. Obama's election coalition in 2008, seem to be deserting the president in droves, said analyst Charlie Cook.

    "And so it is a matter of swing (independent) voters that had swung for Democrats in the two previous elections now swinging over to Republicans, and then the Democratic base being demoralized or unenthusiastic, and conservatives and Republicans very energized and likely to turn out in bigger numbers," said Cook.

    Not all Democrats will want the president to campaign for them this year, especially in states and congressional districts where Mr. Obama is unpopular.  Most Democrats, though, will welcome any financial help they can get from the president in the form of campaign fundraising, says Georgetown University expert Stephen Wayne.

    "Number one, raise money for Democrats who may be challenged or targeted by Republicans, and President Obama still has great appeal among Democrats and is a great money raiser," said Wayne.

    Analysts say a Republican takeover of one or both houses of Congress would severely curtail the president's ability to get his domestic agenda passed by lawmakers over the next two years, and could put him at a political disadvantage as he looks ahead to his own re-election challenge in 2012.


    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.